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Why that pothole has a pizza logo: Domino’s gives cash to fix Miami-Dade streets

Potholes by Domino’s

Crews begin work on a project to fix potholes in Miami-Dade’s District 11, thanks to a $5,000 grant from Domino’s Pizza. District 11 is the only community in Florida that received a Domino’s ‘Paving for Pizza’ grant,
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Crews begin work on a project to fix potholes in Miami-Dade’s District 11, thanks to a $5,000 grant from Domino’s Pizza. District 11 is the only community in Florida that received a Domino’s ‘Paving for Pizza’ grant,

Miami-Dade road worker Nigel Trim fills potholes across the county pretty much all day long, but this is the first time he’s added a pizza logo to his repairs.

Friday morning’s fix of two craggy mini craters off Southwest 24th Street in Kendall christened the arrival of Domino’s Paving for Pizza promotion in the Miami area. The pizza seller gave Miami-Dade $5,000 to cover dozens of pothole repairs as part of a marketing deal that links smooth roads to pristine pies being delivered by Domino’s drivers.

It’s a national campaign that came to Kendall after the county commissioner for that district, Joe Martinez, saw a television commercial promoting the grants and had his staff apply. He was thrilled to preside over the laying of the 50 square feet of asphalt, but Trim’s spray-painted addition of a stenciled Domino’s logo and the “Paving for Pizza” slogan to the newly smoothed surface was a surprise.

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Commissioner Joe A. Martinez joins the work crew paving a pothole funded by Domino's Pizza in a marketing agreement with Miami-Dade to provide $5,000 to cover repairs in Martinez's suburban district. Pedro Portal pportal@miamiherald.com

“Did the agreement say we were going to put the stencils on all the potholes?” Martinez asked aides during the morning event behind the Coral West Plaza II shopping center. “Nobody told me about that.“

Hours later, Martinez’s office said the street-surface branding would be the only Domino’s logo added to a county road, a one-time courtesy to the delivery chain’s marketing goals.

The Michigan-based pizza giant provides promotional materials for governments to use when filling potholes. The stencils and white spray paint for Miami-Dade arrived in a jumbo pizza box, and county workers added a magnetic Domino’s placard to the Public Works truck dispatched to the project.

But the “Marketing Partnership Agreement” between Miami-Dade and Domino’s doesn’t require any branding for the repairs, and Martinez’s office said logos and slogans won’t go on any of the remaining 60 or so potholes to be fixed with grant dollars.

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Miami-Dade County public works department employees work on a street pothole off of Southwest 137th Avenue, as dozens of potholes are been fixed thanks to a $5,000 grant by Domino’s Paving for Pizza program in the Kendall area. Pedro Portal pportal@miamiherald.com

Miami-Dade is obligated to provide Domino’s with two before-and-after photographs of the repaired potholes, and the pizza chain can use the grant in marketing materials.

The undated agreement provided by Martinez’s office gingerly addresses the unspoken heart of the Domino’s promotion: that local governments strapped for infrastructure dollars aren’t repairing potholes as quickly as the public wants, so a national pizza chain has a chance to step in and help.

Under the “Messaging” heading, the Miami-Dade agreement states Domino’s may not “portray the County in a negative light, nor will the materials suggest that the County has difficulty repairing and filling potholes, or has an excessive number of potholes.”

Rolled out last summer, Domino’s Paving for Pizza marketing promotion lists 17 cities with projects, and another 20 on the way. Miami-Dade is the only government in Florida listed as a Domino’s grant recipient.

Martinez said Miami-Dade does have difficulty repairing and filling potholes quickly enough to satisfy residents of District 11, a suburban area he’s represented for 15 of the last 19 years.

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When Domino’s Pizza gave $5,000 to fix potholes on county roads in the Kendall area, it sent along stencils for adding its logo to the pavement. County workers used spray paint to put the Domino’s logo and slogan on the asphalt over the first fixed pothole, but the dozens of other potholes set to be repaired with the grant money won’t be carrying marketing images. Pedro Portal pportal@miamiherald.com

He said his vehicle suffered tire damage from one of the potholes fixed with Domino’s dollars on Friday. That was more than a month ago, he said.

“The county doesn’t have the budget for it,” Martinez said of quick pothole fixes. “To them, it’s not a priority.”

Miami-Dade repaired 14,012 potholes last year — roughly 38 per day. That’s up 16 percent from 2017, according to figures from the Department of Transportation and Public Works. The figures put the Domino’s help in perspective.

The county estimates it costs about $75 to repair a pothole, so the Domino’s $5,000 grant will cover the expense of between 60 and 65 repairs in District 11. That amounts to less than 1 percent of the potholes Miami-Dade repaired countywide last year.

Summer is pothole season, as heavy rains degrade road surfaces and lead to mini cave-ins.

Joe Duarte, the county supervisor of the road crew doing the Domino’s-funded work, said the crew always has a longer list of potholes to tackle than it can repair each day. “We try our best with the personnel we have,” he said. “But it’s hard.”

As a member of the county’s road-repair operation, Duarte said he frequently hears from from friends and family complaining about a neighborhood pothole needing attention.

“I tell them we’ll get to it as soon as we can,” he said. “There are a lot of people with a lot of potholes.”

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